Going Cruelty Free: Cheryl’s reviews

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The process of transforming your household into a cruelty free one takes times, but with more and more available certified cruelty free products, it is achievable. Recently, we asked Cheryl, our Volunteer Coordinator, to share some of her favourite products with us.


I was always aware that a lot of beauty products were tested on animals, but I never gave it much thought when making my purchases. I assumed that some of the products I purchased were cruelty free, either from what I saw in advertisements, or because the product was labeled cruelty free. When I started volunteering with Paws for Hope, I learned that the labeling requirement in North America make it difficult to know if you are purchasing a product that is genuinely cruelty free, because the only requirement is that the final product not be tested on animals. As a result, many products labeled cruelty free have ingredients in them that have been tested on animals. The one way to be sure your products, and their ingredients are truly cruelty free is to make sure they are certified by a third party organization. The two most prominent certifying organizations are Leaping Bunny and PETA.

Recently I made the decision to replace each of my personal care items with cruelty free products. There is no reason to purchase a product that is tested on animals when comparable, and often better quality cruelty free products are available.

Beagle Freedom Project’s Cruelty Cutter app is very helpful for this endeavour. Using its barcode scanning feature, you can look up a product quickly to find out if its certified cruelty free. Unfortunately, when you are looking for more than one product that is cruelty free it can be time consuming to use the app. This becomes apparent pretty quickly when shopping in big chain stores since most of the products are not cruelty free.

Finding the right product takes time. When switching your household products to 100% cruelty free ones do not expect it to happen over night. Give yourself the time to find replacement products that you are truly happy with. As I mentioned, you will likely find products that are even better quality than the animal tested products you were accustomed to.

Below are personal reviews of products I have tried. I hope you find them helpful!

Dermologica is expensive but some of their products are worth it. The Essential Cleansing Solution is mositurizing, so much so you almost feel like you could skip applying moisturizer. The Precleanse is great for removing make-up, especially mascara. The Skin Perfect Primer is fantastic. It’s nice and provides light coverage (no need for foundation). The Skin Hydrating Masque leaves your face feeling soft and the rice exfoliant makes it feel smooth. One of the products that did not work for me was the Daily Gel Cleanser. It left my skin feeling too dry afterwards.

Marc Anthony hair products and lotions are reasonably priced. I like all of the hair products I’ve tried so far. For me personally, the volumizing line worked well, whereas the moisturizing line was a bit too heavy for my fine hair. The Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter Volume hairspray smells great, but unfortunately the hairsprays only seem to come in aerosol. The Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter and Moisturizing Shea Butter & Marula Oil have nice scents, although I prefer something that moisturizes a little better. These might be good lotions for summer time.

Burt’s Bees facial products are a good economical option. I like the Radiance eye cream and Brightening face cream, but wasn’t impressed with the Deep Pore Scrub. When it comes to exfoliators, I prefer one with smaller “beads.” I am not fond of the scent in the Coco & Cupuacu Butters body lotion, but it did work well for dry skin. The Lip Shine gloss is nice and lightweight.

Kevin Murphy hair products are expensive but I love them. The Angel Wash shampoo for coloured hair doesn’t lather much (like most expensive shampoos I’ve tried), but your hair feels clean. The Anti Gravity Spray weightless hairspray lives up to its name. Both of these products have lovely scent. I found the scent in the purse-sized Session Spray Strong Hold Finishing Spray hairspray to be a bit too strong, and it only comes in aerosol.

Another great thing about Kevin Murphy is the environmental packaging. Having rectangular bottles means no bubble wrap!

European Soaps’ bar soap is not dehydrating and it lasts a long time. So far, I like the coconut scented one the best. There is an exfoliating bar but I found it to be a little too much for my liking (ouch!).

I prefer the Method nourishing hand wash over the regular. Method products are reasonably priced and they offer large refills of the regular liquid soap.

Tarte mascara: Lights, Camera, Flashes is good. It lengthens, and thickens and even curls lashes a bit. It is a good choice for a more natural look. I also find Tarte’s mascaras don’t tend to flake. The Skinny smolder eyes eyeliner, includes a smudging sponge and stays put after application. But it only seems to go on thick.

Too Faced make-up line had a fantastic mascara called Lashgasm. It didn’t smudge, wasn’t flaky and provided a natural look. But I can no longer find it at Sephora. I tried their Better Than Sex mascara but found it too thick/clumpy and it flakes quite a bit.

Tom’s of Maine antiperspirant worked well, but… it was supposed to be unscented, but whatever replaced the usual scents was not a scent I liked. I’m still looking for a good cruelty free option for this item.

Body Fantasies vanilla body spray’s scent is a little too strong. I still like it, but just use it sparingly.

My skin is very dry right now and George’s Special Dry Skin Cream is doing the trick. It’s a bit greasy when you apply it, and takes some extra time to soak in, but it works really well.

Lastly, Salt Spring Soapworks’ sparkling rhubarb bubble bath smells absolutely wonderful!

I hope you find this helpful and enjoy some of these cruelty free products if you decide to give them a try! If you would like to share with us some of your favourite products, join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Cheryl B


When you work or volunteer in animal rescue you often feel like you bare the brunt of other people’s poor and/or selfish decisions. A common conversation among animal rescuers is the ridiculous reasons people have given when surrendering their pet. In fact, just this past Christmas we published a post that discussed this very issue. And I think many of us, at some point in our career, will experience a sense of martyrdom. We are picking up people’s messes. We are saving the abused and neglected. We are speaking on behalf of the voiceless. If not us, than no one.

Because of this degree of responsibility many of us feel to protect and advocate for animals we place unreasonable expectations on ourselves. But we are human, and we cannot fix everything. There are issues and problems that are simply beyond our control. Recently I was faced with this and through this experience I learned some valuable lessons.

When Molly’s profile appeared on Facebook, my partner and I were immediately drawn to her sweet face. A victim of a divorce, Molly, at no fault of her own, ended up at the shelter. She was a young shepherd mix who lived with children. The perfect dog for us and our four year old daughter. I sent a note to my contact at the shelter and ask if they could cat test her, and both times she was introduced to a cat at the shelter she did not react. Perfect. Molly was perfect. We brought our daughter to the shelter to meet her and she was amazing. We filled out an adoption application, and two days later we were informed that we were approved.

Molly and I leaving the shelter

We were beyond excited, and I went to the shelter first thing the next morning to get her. Stopped by the pet store on the way home to buy her everything she would need to be comfortable in her new home. When we arrived at home our senior chihuahua was not phased by her presence, our cat Cinnibar was not that impressed and while on leash Molly appeared a bit interested but nothing that caused me to be concerned. Everything was perfect.

Molly and Chili meeting

Until Cinnibar moved.

Molly’s high prey drive kicked in and chaos ensued. I was not prepared for this in any way, and luckily Cinnibar was able to find safety on our daughter’s top bunk bed. Over the next few days, upon advice from many colleagues and friends I implemented a number of controls and routines to keep Cinnibar safe and provide opportunities to try to work on Molly’s prey drive. It didn’t work. Molly was the most amazing dog in EVERY OTHER ASPECT. She knew commands and followed them. She walked well on a leash. She was active, yet very relaxed. She was so good with our daughter. She was good with our small dog and even tried to instigate play.

But she wanted to eat our cat.

How could I return her? In addition to falling madly in love with her, I felt this internalized pressure that because of my work with Paws for Hope I had to make this work. What would it say about me if I couldn’t make it work and had to return her to the shelter? I would be a hypocrite wouldn’t I?


Management control

Key to improving the lives of animals is making sure they are in the right home, and it doesn’t automatically follow that when you fall in love with an animal that you are the perfect home for them. We could have kept Molly and made arrangements to manage the situation with crates and gates (which we initially did), but not only is this unfair to the animal who is confined, if the behaviour does not change, the situation could potentially end in disaster. Tragic stories of when management ended in disaster were also shared with me.

And what if we changed the perception of returns? When I shared my experience with Sheila Koukan, manager at Best Friends Society’s NKLA Pet Adoption Center her response provided an important perspective, and helped me understand that I would not be failing Molly by returning her to the shelter.

It’s important to change the perception of returns. We want what is best for the animal and the adopters. At least returns allow us to learn more about the animals and find them the right home moving forward.

And she’s right. Now, the shelter knows Molly absolutely cannot live with cats. They also now know that she is good with small dogs, does very well with structure and needs her daily walks.

Finally, perhaps the most important lesson was giving myself permission to not be a martyr. Next to raising my daughter, advocating for the welfare of animals is the most important thing in my life. I have worked day and night over the past six years to make Paws for Hope into a credible organization that will make a meaningful and sustainable difference in animal welfare. Admitting that I would not be the one who would give this shelter dog a second chance at life felt like the biggest failure. But in fact, I would have failed Molly if I did not return her to the shelter to give her the opportunity to be raised by the perfect family for her. A family with no cats. A house where she could therefore roam freely. I would have also failed Cinnibar, by creating an environment that would cause her ongoing stress. One where she could no longer run and play. One controlled by the presence of another. And as many of my colleagues reminded me, Cinnibar has to come first.

This experience showed me the best of the animal welfare community. When we were in management mode, there was an army of rescue folks ready to help in anyway, and when we accepted that we were not the right home for Molly and made the decision to return her, that same army was there to support me. Sharing my experience publicly also seemed to give people permission to share their stories of adoptions or rehomings that did not work. Some admitting that, like me, they felt so ashamed because of the work they do, they never told anyone.

Cinnibar enjoying the return of her freedom

Accepting that there are limits in what we are capable of is essential to helping animals effectively. When we take on too much we may do more harm than good. Because of lack of funding and government political will to make animal welfare a priority, the system often operates in crisis mode. To respond effectively and to make meaningful steps to move towards a more sustainable animal welfare system we need to know and work within our limits.

And Molly? Twenty-four hours after being back at the shelter she has gone home with her perfect family.

Kathy Powelson
Executive Director

A message from our Founder and Executive Director

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It’s the early morning of the last day of 2016 and as I reflect on the year we have had, I wanted to reach out to thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to improving the lives of companion animals in BC.

The inspiration to start Paws for Hope was based on the realization that while there are many amazing organizations doing incredible life saving work, our animal welfare system as a whole is broken and for the most part, those on the front lines are only able to respond to crises. Thus, our founding Board of Directors came together to create an organization that could serve as an umbrella organization to support and enhance the work that is currently being done and to fill in the gaps where necessary.

Each year since we founded in 2011 has been an exciting year of growth. This past year, however, has been particularly exciting. We published “A Snapshot of Companion Animal Welfare in BC“, which summarized the results of two online surveys. One survey, “Animal Welfare and Rescue Work” was a 24 question survey for members of the general public. The other survey, “Animal Welfare and Rescue in BC” was a 41
question survey designed specifically for those working directly with animal welfare and rescue. This report is what led us to our work creating the Animal Welfare Advisory Network of BC, which will serve to enable organizations to work together to fund and implement regional and/or provincial strategies to address challenges associated with pet abandonment, abuse, and overpopulation. Thanks to a generous grant from the Vancouver Foundation, we will be able to make the Network a priority in 2017.

Our work supporting homeless and low income pet guardians continues to be a major focus for us, We have seen tremendous growth in the number of pets we see at our clinics and those that we are able to provide financial support to for emergency lifesaving care and treatment over the years. We funded a first of its kind research report, “Connections and Companionship: the health of BC youth with pets“. This research conducted by the McCreary Centre Society demonstrated the important role that pets play in the lives of young people, and the barriers that youth at risk with pets can face. We were very excited to partner with Ottawa’s Veterinary Community Outreach, UBC Nursing School, Vancouver Coastal Health and Directions Youth Services to pilot BC’s first One Health clinic. Our intention is to continue to advocate for the significance of the human/animal bond and we will continue to play a leading role in providing an evidence based approach to supporting vulnerable populations.

Our Pets Are Not Products campaign was refreshed with a new look and an online toolkit to support community members to mobilize for change at municipal and provincial level. Each year pets are purchased as Christmas gifts and many are ultimately surrendered and abandoned. In an effort to put an end to this, our annual Christmas campaign created powerful messages that reinforce the lifetime commitment that comes with having a pet.

Your generosity has made all of this possible. Thank you for such a great year!

This coming year holds a lot of promise. We have a talented board of directors, committed volunteers and community partners and we have you. Let’s make 2017 the best year yet.

From all of us at Paws for Hope and on behalf of all the animals saved, Happy New Year.

Kathy Powelson

Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is a BC animal welfare charity dedicated to creating sustainable animal welfare and purposeful animal protection in British Columbia.
Our work is possible because of your support. Your donations make a difference in lives of companion animals


7 ideas to spread animal love this season, animal rescue, pets are not products, holidays and animals, animal surrender, pet Christmas gift

Instead of buying a dog, cat, or other furry critter for kids and other loved ones this season, consider these great (and humane) ideas for spreading animal-loving joy.

  1. Donate
    Thousands of pets are surrendered after the holidays when the thrill wears off and end up in cages at rescue organizations and shelters across the province. When you donate to Paws For Hope, we distribute funds to partner organizations that need it most. We’ll even send you a card to gift to your friends and family, should you want to make a donation on their behalf.
  1. Volunteer
    Animals love to be loved! And shelter animals, while well taken care of by shelter staff, don’t always get as much individual love and care as an animal needs to thrive. Call up your favourite organization and give some time to some four-legged furballs in need.
  1. Foster an animal
    If you’re not ready for a full-time new furry family member, several organizations use foster homes as interim stable environments for dogs, cats, and rabbits before they find their forever home. If you have time, space, and love to gift, fostering might be a great idea. Here are a few things to consider before fostering.
  1. Hang out with your friend’s pet
    Pet owners LOVE friends who they can trust to cat sit or dog sit (or bunny sit or guinea pig sit…). You give the gift of a weekend of freedom to your friend and you get the gift of fabulous four-legged love. It’s win-win.
  1. Visit Catfe
    If you live in downtown Vancouver and cats steal your heart, visit the Catfe. Coffee + rescue cats all in one place. A purrrr-fect combo.
  1. Gift an animal adoption kit
    Instead of buying a pet for someone, buy them an adoption kit instead. A basket full of goodies—collar, water bowls, food, treats, leash, etc. So when they’re ready, they can start to look for the right pet for them at the right time. Wildebeest has a great starter kit for $69 USD.
  1. Take your passion to the streets & raise awareness
    If you’re keen on getting your hands dirty and sinking your teeth into the issue of breeding mills, we love passionate folks. Take our Pledge  to never purchase an animal from a retail store, then download our Advocacy Digital Toolkit.  The more awareness you can help us spread, the more likely we’ll achieve our goal of ending the retail sale of animals for good!


13 reasons pets are surrendered, animal rescue, pets are not products, holidays and animals, animal surrender, pet Christmas gift

It seems obvious to state but animals are living, breathing beings. Which means, they require the same necessities of life that their human best friends require: food, shelter, love, health. Still, thousands of animals are surrendered to rescue organizations every year in Canada because the people who bought them were ill-prepared to care for them.

Although some animals are surrendered due to real, unforeseen, and uncontrollable circumstances, like the death of an owner, a child developing a severe allergy, or severe behavioural issues, most surrenders are paired with outrageous and downright heartbreaking excuses.

These are a few that we’ve heard recently:

  • “I didn’t realize he was going to get so big. His collar is too small.”
  • “The cat is a freeloader. It just sleeps all day.”
  • “We have a white couch and the cat’s black hair sticks to it.”
  • “I didn’t know how much work it would be. It’s a lot of work.”
  • “She’s afraid to get in the car. It’s annoying.”
  • “We’re retiring and the cat doesn’t match our lifestyle any more.”
  • “My new girlfriend doesn’t like the dog.”
  • “The old dog doesn’t get along with the new dog. So can you take the old dog?”
  • “We’re replacing the floor in the house and we don’t want the new floor to get scratched.”
  • “We just landscaped the backyard and we don’t want the dog to ruin the grass.”
  • “It was a gift for our son but he’s bored of it.”
  • “The puppy doesn’t answer to his name.”
  • “This dog follows me everywhere. I can’t stand it following me all the time.”

Pets are hard work. And they’re NOT disposable.

Pets take time. They cost money. They can be messy. They can be stinky. They can be playful and adorable. They make mistakes. They impress. And they are loyal to the very last beats of their hearts to those who give them love. Owning a pet can be (and is) one of life’s most enriching experiences. That said, you have to be ready, selfless, and committed. Owning a pet is a long-term commitment.

Help us keep animals out of shelters. Donate to support the Pets Are Not Products campaign to end the retail sale of animals. And, if you or anyone you know is thinking of buying an animal, please ask yourself Is this best for the animal?—then consider these 10 things.

Why we care: Meet our Founder & Executive Director Kathy Powelson

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Kathy Powelson is the founder and executive director of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation. Her vision six years ago was to create an entity that would act as an umbrella organization to existing agencies and groups working so hard to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome animals, and educate and advocate on behalf of animals in British Columbia. With a background in the social services sector and community development, Kathy was well positioned to create the framework to begin this work and is very proud of the achievements made to date.

I believe strongly in the power of community and, in order to do effective and sustainable work, you must work directly in the community” she says. “There’s a lot of amazing work being done on behalf of animals, but it’s often piecemeal and most often groups are only able to respond to crises.

As such, Kathy works hard to find ways to help support the animal-welfare community through events that include keynote speakers and workshops that address things like capacity building (including a recent grant-writing workshop). She is also very excited about the development of Paws for Hope’s Animal Welfare Advisory Network, the purpose of which is to enable organizations throughout B.C. to work together to fund and implement regional and/or provincial strategies to address challenges associated with pet abandonment, abuse and overpopulation. Much of this work will be possible thanks to multi year funding from the Vancouver Foundation.

This holiday season, Kathy would like to thank our sponsors for their assistance in furthering Paws for Hope’s vision. Our organization relies on gifts from generous donors like yourself to continue its work. As a registered charity, every donation made to Paws for Hope will receive a tax receipt. Please consider making a donation today.

Why we care: meet Health Clinic Coordinator Tanya Jamieson

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Tanya Jamieson’s love for animals was the reason she pursued a career in the veterinary field. Having completed Granville Business College’s veterinary office assistant program in 2000, Tanya went to work for a clinic in Squamish for five years before joining Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital as a receptionist, where she has remained for more than a decade. As Paws for Hope’s animal health clinic coordinator, she gets to see first-hand how far your dollars go toward helping people and their pets.

I get to experience how grateful most of the people truly are,” she says, pointing to programs like SpayAid BC, where partnerships are made with veterinary hospitals to eliminate pet overpopulation across the province by providing spay/neuter assistance to low-income earners, with each partner hospital providing a 33 percent discount and the remaining cost is split evenly between Paws for Hope and the SpayAid BC recipient. “Their pets are truly a blessing and, for a lot of people, have helped them emotionally through very difficult situations.”

Eevee is a happy and health patient of our SpayAid BC program

This holiday season, will you help us continue to help pets and their guardians throughout British Columbia? As a registered charity, every donation made to Paws for Hope will receive a tax receipt. Please consider making a donation today.


Every year, pet stores in Canada sell thousands of pets—dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, etc.—that are inevitably gifted with bright red bows to shrieking children, significant others, and unsuspecting family members and friends. Approximately 70% of these living and breathing gifts are surrendered to shelters, given away to other people, or abandoned shortly after the holiday season. It’s a sad epidemic. Once the reality sets in that pets aren’t a novelty but rather living beings that require love, attention, and money to survive, many people feel overwhelmed, even trapped, and try to offload them. In some cases, these “gifts” were given to someone who didn’t even want them.

Before you purchase an animal, consider these facts:

1. It costs (a lot of) money to take care of an animal for a lifetime.
When you choose to become a pet guardian, you make a commitment to a living creature—and it’s more than just to love and play fetch. You make a financial commitment, too.

According to PetFinder, the average cost of caring for a dog is between $766-$10,350 in the first year and then $536-$9532 for every year after that. This includes food, vet bills, vaccinations, bedding, toys, boarding while on vacation, training, dental cleaning, grooming, fencing, treats, and accessories like collars, leashes, water bowls, etc.

2. The best relationships are ones with an emotional connection.
Sometimes, we think of pets as interchangeable. A dog is a dog is a dog. A cat is a cat is a cat. Not true. It’s very important when choosing an animal to love that you (or the person you’re gifting them to) meet them first. Animals, like humans, have personalities. Finding a fit with an animal is just as important as finding a fit with a human mate. Essentially, you’ve got to like each other. The human-animal bond is a big deal—for both parties. That bond can’t be forced. It has to be felt.

Instead, consider gifting an adoption kit. A bunch of toys, a collar, some treats. And when the time is right, the recipient can go to a local shelter and/or animal rescue, meet the animals, and find true love. On their terms.

3. The holidays are a crazy time; crazy times are not ideal for adding furry family members.
The holidays see hoards of people come and go. Dinners. Get-togethers. Parties. Road trips. It’s loud. It’s messy. And it’s rare to find anyone who actually has the time to help a new puppy, kitten, or bunny adjust to its new surroundings. Which means: the new pet is a stressed pet. And this stress can be permanently imprinted and create ongoing trauma and trust issues.

New animals in any home at any time of year require extra attention, socialization, and bonding. Christmas is not the time—for animals or humans—to make this happen.

Help Paws For Hope spread the #PetsAreNotProducts message.
Most people don’t’ know that when you purchase an animal, you support breeding mills. Instead, take the pledge to never purchase an animal again, then buy your friends and family some Paws For Hope T-shirts to support rescue animals or donate to help us end the retails sale of animals altogether.

Why we care: meet Board Director Rhianydd Bellis

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Rhianydd Bellis has been passionate about animals since she was a child. “When I was younger I was always advocating for one animal welfare issue or another,” she says. “I volunteered at the local vet clinic and, at any given time, my family had an assortment of domestic pets and sick or injured wildlife. The animals in my care ranged from a cat and two dogs to a tarantula and my beloved crow, Molly.”

Years later, Rhianydd remains passionate about advancing animal welfare in B.C., and credits her rescue dog, Tessa, for rekindling her commitment to this issue.

Watching Tessa transform from a skinny, traumatized orphan into a healthy, happy dog has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she says. “Tessa got a second chance, but it breaks my heart to know there are countless animals in our community who are equally deserving but not as lucky. Tessa has inspired me to work to improve the lives of those less-fortunate animals as much as possible.”


As a result, Rhianydd joined the Paws for Hope team in 2016. Through her role as a board director, she is able to put her principles and passion for animals into action, providing support and working on programs and projects that advance a sustainable approach to animal welfare in B.C. This holiday season, she wants to thank our sponsors for their assistance in furthering the organization’s vision.
Paws for Hope relies on gifts from generous donors like yourself to continue its work. As a registered charity, every donation made to Paws for Hope will receive a tax receipt. Please consider making a donation today.

Why we care: a message from Board Director Noa Nichol

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Noa Nichol, a writer and editor, has been working in Canadian print and online media – including such pet-focused publications as Modern Dog and Modern Cat magazines – for more than 15 years. In 2016, while on maternity leave from her editor role at Vancouver-based Glacier Media, she launched a website, Adopteez, which gives responsible shelters and rescue groups additional communications tools, free of charge, with which to network animals seeking adoption. Joining the Paws for Hope board of directors this past fall has given her further opportunity to make a real difference to a cause that’s close to her heart, and she looks forward to supporting the organization’s work, helping to strengthen and empower the existing animal welfare and support system in place within B.C., in 2017 and beyond.

One example of the important work being done by Paws for Hope is the creation of a provincial Animal Welfare Advisory Network, meant to enable organizations across British Columbia to work together to fund and implement strategies that address challenges associated with pet abandonment, abuse and overpopulation (this following Paws for Hope’s 2016 “A Snapshot of Companion Animal Welfare in B.C.” report and a subsequent stakeholders meeting). The strides that can be made via a strong partnership between animal welfare and rescue organizations will serve to create a more sustainable and accountable animal welfare system in B.C.

Will you make a difference, as well? Paws for Hope relies on gifts from generous donors like yourself to continue its work. As a registered charity, every donation made to Paws for Hope will receive a tax receipt. Please consider making a donation today.